INDIA TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2018
Cricbuzz Staff •
Hales played a matured knock in the chase to help England level the series. © Getty
A disciplined performance from the England bowlers and an unbeaten half-century from Alex Hales helped the hosts beat India by five wickets in the second T20I at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Friday (July 6). Having kept India to 148 for 5, despite some late hitting by MS Dhoni, England batsmen struggled in the first half of their innings. But Hales’s well-paced half-century and the middle order’s improved performance against the spinners made all the difference, with their chief tormentor in the previous game – Kuldeep Yadav – bowling four wicket-less overs for 34 runs.
The start of the chase was an entertaining battle between Umesh Yadav and the England openers, one in which the Indian pacer came out victorious by accounting for both. After being hit for two fours and a six by Jason Roy, Umesh came back well by defeating the batsman’s defence with a delivery that jagged back in to rattle the stumps. Jos Buttler struck three fours across two overs from Umesh and was also put down by Virat Kohli. But the damage was limited as he attempted to go over the top again and the Indian captain ensured there wasn’t a second mistake.
England’s troubles against spin appeared to continue as Joe Root fell cheaply, bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal after failing to read a googly. The right-arm wrist spinner conceded only eight of his first two overs and was complemented by Hardik who bowled a quiet first spell. With Kuldeep also getting off to an economical start, England could only manage 59 in their first 10 overs in an effort that mirrored India’s start.
But England turned the pressure back on India – those spin simulations against ‘Merlyn’ the bowling machine seemed to have paid off – as Hales scored a four and a six off Chahal in the 11th over and followed it up with a maximum off Kuldeep that went out of the ground. With Eoin Morgan also managing a couple of fours, a counter-attacking partnership got England back on track. However, the association was cut short by Pandya, who employed the short delivery to have Morgan caught at the deep.
A couple of tight overs – from Pandya and Kuldeep – turned the heat back on England but Bairstow contributed his bit to the see-saw nature game by striking two back-to-back sixes off Kuldeep to bring down the equation to 23 off three overs. A fine over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar followed as he dismissed Bairstow and conceded only two runs (plus a leg-bye). But three crucial hits from Hales – a boundary off Umesh in the penultimate over followed by a huge six and a four off Bhuvneshwar off the first two deliveries of the last over – paved way for England’s victory with two deliveries to spare.
The inclusion of Jake Ball for Moeen Ali to constitute a four-pronged pace attack had to do with the dimensions of the boundary, explained Morgan at the toss after opting to bowl. The move worked well as the pacemen kept it mostly short and on the body, cutting out boundary options and the pressure translated into early wickets. An uncomfortable looking Rohit Sharma top-edged a pull to give debutant Ball his first wicket. Shikhar Dhawan lost the grip of his bat while attempting a quick single to be run out and was soon followed by KL Rahul as India managed only 31 in the powerplay for the loss of three of their key personnel.
With the immediate requirement being to stem the rot, and England continuing with their tight line and lengths, a sedate partnership between Suresh Raina and Kohli ensued. India could only reach 52 at the halfway stage of their innings with Kohli failing to score a single boundary off his first 21 deliveries. The Indian captain managed to break the shackles by scoring a four and a six off successive deliveries from Adil Rashid, although he was lucky with the maximum as a diving Roy failed to hold on to the ball at long on. Raina too dispatched a Ball delivery for a six before he was out stumped off Rashid which ended a half-century stand.
Boundaries came at a premium as the innings progressed, and the going was slow even though Dhoni found the fence a couple of times. With a nonchalant flick for a six off Chris Jordan in the 17th over, Kohli promised some fireworks in the death overs, only to be dismissed in the following over by Willey – three short of a half-century – after his pull landed in the hands of a diving Root at fine leg. It took a late blitz from Dhoni to shore up India’s total as the wicketkeeper-batsman flat-batted three boundaries off Ball in the final over which yielded 22 runs. But the England bowlers’ earlier frugal spells meant that India were a few runs short.
Brief scores: India 148/5 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 47, MS Dhoni 32*; Liam Plunkett 1-17) lost to England 149/5 in 19.4 overs (Alex Hales 58*, Jonny Bairstow 28; Umesh Yadav 2-36) by 5 wickets.